Everything you need to know about the race between Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City to win EPL crown

JAMES SHARPE, CHRIS SUTTON & DANNY MURPHY
The Nightly
5 Min Read
Manchester City sit third in the English Premier League as they vie for their fourth title on the trot.
Manchester City sit third in the English Premier League as they vie for their fourth title on the trot. Credit: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Ten games. Three teams. One point. Rarely has a Premier League title race been tighter than this as Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City battle it out for glory.

The last time only a point separated the top three so late in the season it was 10 years ago and Steven Gerrard slipped and City snatched the crown by two points.

This is the fifth time it’s happened in the history of the 20-team Premier League.

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Will current king Pep Guardiola make it four titles in a row? Will his protege Mikel Arteta end Arsenal’s 20-year wait to be champions again? Or will Jurgen Klopp secure the perfect curtain call on his sensational time at Liverpool before he takes his final bow?

The Nightly dives into the numbers to discover who will get over the line and who will fall short.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Declan Rice of Arsenal celebrates victory in the penalty shoot out at full-time following the UEFA Champions League 2023/24 round of 16 second leg match between Arsenal FC and FC Porto at Emirates Stadium on March 12, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Declan Rice has been a standout for Arsenal. Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images

1 ARSENAL (64pts)

ATTACK

Arsenal, remember, had to sign a striker. They couldn’t just rely on Gabriel Jesus or new signing Kai Havertz because he was rubbish. Yet here they are, highest scorers in the division. It’s not only that which makes Arsenal so dangerous.

It’s that they score all the goals. Arsenal have the most goals from set plays (19), the most headed goals (16), the most players to score at least five (7) and have the closest difference between goals with their left (25) and right (26) foot. They’ll get you somehow.

DEFENCE

It’s not the attack that’s been key. Arsenal have the best defence — by a mile. They face the fewest shots on target (2.5) per game, keep the most clean sheets (11), have conceded the fewest goals (24) and their Expected Goals conceded is eight fewer than anyone else. Last season, they only conceded three fewer than Brentford. Having William Saliba fit all season and Declan Rice in front of him has been crucial.

MANAGER

Mikel Arteta’s record against his title rivals is the biggest marker of how far he’s come. He lost 10 of his first 13 games against Liverpool and City, including his first six against mentor Pep Guardiola. This season, Arsenal have not lost a league game to any Big Six club.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: The players of Arsenal celebrate as David Raya of Arsenal (not pictured) makes the match-winning save from the fourth penalty from Galeno of FC Porto (not pictured) in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA Champions League 2023/24 round of 16 second leg match between Arsenal FC and FC Porto at Emirates Stadium on March 12, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Arsenal are leading the EPL but by the slimmest of margins. Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images

VERDICT

Arsenal are the best team. They’ve scored the most goals and conceded the fewest. Their Expected Goal difference per game is the best in the division when, for the last seven seasons, it’s been Man City. Not anymore.

There is a but, though. When the table is so tight, there’s no room for slip ups. Arsenal’s run-in is the toughest, especially away from home. They still have to go to City, Tottenham and Manchester United. All their away games are against teams in the top 10. If they get it done with those away fixtures, they sure as hell deserve it. On Monday morning (AEST) they take on Manchester City.

2 LIVERPOOL (64 pts)

ATTACK

Two dangerous things happened at once: Mo Salah returned from injury and Darwin Nunez found out where the net is. Since Boxing Day, only two players (min 250mins) can boast an expected goal per game greater than one: Darwin Nunez and Mo Salah. And, like all great teams, they never know when they are beaten.

No side has scored more goals in the last 15 minutes of games (24) which have seen them earn 13 points from losing positions in the latter stages of games. Liverpool have trailed in 13 games this season. They’ve lost twice.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 02: Darwin Nunez of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool FC at the City Ground on March 02, 2024 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Darwin Nunez has been devastating upfront. Credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

DEFENCE

Like Arsenal, you get so distracted by the attack, it’s easy to miss the solid foundations it is built upon. Liverpool have conceded 26 goals. At this stage last season, they’d let in 33. So much is down to Virgil van Dijk’s return to his imperious best. Not a single error leading to a shot or goals, and dribbled past only twice.

MANAGER

Klopp’s not just stirred the soul of the Kop with his departure, he has the magic touch with his tactical tweaks too: no side has more goals and assists by subs than Liverpool this season (22).

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool, celebrates after Wataru Endo of Liverpool (not pictured) scores a goal, which is later ruled out for an offside decision, during the Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final between Manchester United and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford on March 17, 2024 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Jurgen Klopp is looking for a fairytale finish to his time in charge of Liverpool. Credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images

VERDICT

For some, it’s a fairytale written in the stars. Certain forces of fate, like these, are too strong to overcome. A title in Klopp’s final season in front of the fans is simply meant to be. For those less romantic, Liverpool have two of the most potent attackers in the league, the best centre-back in the world and the easiest run-in.

3 MANCHESTER CITY (63pts)

ATTACK

City have Erling Haaland. That helps. Yet we are seeing faults in his circuitry. He’s failed to score in seven of his last 10 PL games for the first time. City are seven goals down from last season.

When Haaland accounts for 30 per cent of your goals, the most except for Solanke at Bournemouth and Bowen at West Ham, that can be a problem. Last season, though, it was closer to 40 per cent so at least Pep is finding goals from other players like Phil Foden.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 03: Erling Haaland of Manchester City misses an opportunity from close range whilst under pressure from Raphael Varane of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on March 03, 2024 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Erling Haaland has been struggling to score for Manchester City of late but is still one of their more potent weapons. Credit: Michael Regan/Getty Images

DEFENCE

Likewise, the Pep defensive machine is spluttering. City are shipping a goal a game for the first time since Guardiola’s first season. They are facing more shots per game (8.3) than ever under him. They’ve dropped 10 points from winning positions this season and five of them have come in the last 15 minutes of games. For once, they don’t feel quite so untouchable.

MANAGER

It’s incredible how he does it. Year after year Guardiola instils a relentless desire to win again and again. When it comes to the crunch, that mentality counts for a lot.

VERDICT

For all the concerns about the cracks, City remain just a point behind. Their only Big Six away trip left is Spurs. Their final few home games are against teams they can crush. They have the know-how. That’s why they are still bookies’ favourites. The Arsenal game is huge.

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